Why are fried foods bad for you?

Deep frying is a common cooking method that is used throughout the world. Frequently, restaurants and fast food chains use it as a quick and inexpensive way to prepare food.

Popular fried foods include fish, chips, chicken strips and cheese sticks, although it can fry almost anything.

Many people like the taste of fried foods. However, these foods tend to be high in calories and trans fat, so eating many of them can have negative effects on your health.

This article explains why commercially fried foods are bad for you and provides some healthier alternatives to consider.

Fried foods are rich in calories

French fries in a bowl

Compared to other cooking methods, deep frying adds a lot of calories.

For starters, fried foods are usually coated with dough or flour before frying. In addition, when foods are fried in oil, they lose water and absorb fat, which further increases their calorie content (1).

In general, fried foods are significantly higher in fat and calories than their non-fried counterparts.

For example, a small baked potato (100 grams) contains 93 calories and 0 grams of fat, while the same amount (100 grams) of potato chips contains 319 calories and 17 grams of fat (2, 3).

As another example, a fillet of 100 grams of baked cod contains 105 calories and 1 gram of fat, while the same amount of fried fish contains 232 calories and 12 grams of fat (4, 5).

As you can see, calories accumulate quickly when eating fried foods.

Summary Fried foods contain more calories than their non-fried counterparts. Eating many of them can significantly increase your calorie intake.

Fried foods are typically high in fat inTrans

Trans fats are formed when unsaturated fats are subjected to a process called hydrogenation.

Food manufacturers often hydrogenate fats using high pressure and hydrogen gas to increase their shelf life and stability, but hydrogenation also occurs when the oils are heated to very high temperatures during cooking.

The process changes the chemical structure of fats, which makes it difficult for your body to break down, which can ultimately cause negative health effects.

In fact, trans fats are associated with an increased risk of many diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity (6, 7, 8).

Since fried foods are cooked in oil at extremely high temperatures, they are likely to contain trans fats.

In addition, fried foods are often cooked in vegetable oils or processed seeds, which may contain trans fat before heating.

A study conducted in the USA UU On soybean and canola oils he discovered that 0.6-4.2% of their fatty acid contents were trans fats (9).

When these oils are heated at high temperatures, such as during frying, their trans fat content may increase (10).

In fact, one study found that each time an oil is reused for frying, its trans fat content increases (11).

However, it is important to distinguish between these artificial trans fats and the trans fats that are naturally found in foods such as meat and dairy products.

These have not been shown to have the same negative health effects as those found in fried and processed foods.

Summary Fried foods are often cooked in vegetable oils or processed seeds. When heated, these oils can form trans fats, which are associated with a number of health problems, including an increased risk of various diseases.

Eating fried foods can increase your risk of disease

Several studies in adults have found an association between eating fried foods and the risk of chronic diseases.

In general, eating more fried foods is associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity (12).

Heart disease

Eating fried foods can contribute to high blood pressure, "good" HDL cholesterol, and obesity, which are risk factors for heart disease (13, 14, 15, 16).

In fact, two large observational studies found that the more often people ate fried foods, the greater the risk of developing heart disease (17).

One study found that women who ate one or more servings of fried fish per week had a 48% higher risk of heart failure, compared to those who consumed 1 to 3 servings per month (18).

On the other hand, the increase in the intake of baked or broiled fish was associated with a lower risk.

Another observational study found that a diet high in fried foods was associated with a significantly higher risk of heart attack (19).

Meanwhile, those who ate a diet rich in fruits and vegetables had a significantly lower risk.


Several studies have found that eating fried foods increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (20, 21).

One study found that people who ate fast food more than twice a week were twice as likely to develop insulin resistance, compared to those who ate less than once a week (22).

In addition, two large observational studies found a strong association between the frequency with which participants ate fried foods and the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Those who consumed 4 to 6 servings of fried foods per week were 39% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, compared to those who consumed less than one serving per week.

Similarly, those who ate fried foods seven or more times a week were 55% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, compared to those who consumed less than one serving per week. (2. 3).


Fried foods contain more calories than their non-fried counterparts, so eating many of them can significantly increase your calorie intake.

In addition, studies indicate that trans fats in fried foods can play an important role in weight gain, since they can affect the hormones that regulate appetite and fat storage (24).

A study in monkeys found that, even in the absence of additional calories, the consumption of trans fats significantly increased belly fat (25).

Therefore, the problem may be the type of fat, rather than the amount of fat.

In fact, an observational study that reviewed the diets of 41,518 women over eight years found that increasing trans fat intake by 1% resulted in a weight gain of 1.2 pounds (0.54 kg) in normal-weight women.

Among overweight women, a 1% increase in trans fat intake resulted in a weight gain of 2.3 pounds (1.04 kg) throughout the study (26).

Meanwhile, increases in the intake of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats were not associated with weight gain.

Regardless of whether it is because fried foods are high in calories or trans fat, several observational studies have shown a positive association between their intake and obesity (16, 27).

Summary People who regularly consume fried foods may have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity. It seems that the higher your intake, the greater your risk.

Fried foods may contain harmful acrylamide

Acrylamide is a toxic substance that can be formed in food during cooking at high temperatures, such as frying, roasting or baking.

It is formed by a chemical reaction between sugars and an amino acid called asparagine.

Foods rich in starch such as potato chips and baked goods typically have higher concentrations of acrylamide (28).

Studies in animals have found that it represents a risk for several types of cancer (28, 29).

However, most of these studies used very high doses of acrylamide, with a range of 1,000 to 100,000 times the average amount at which humans would be exposed through the diet (30).

While a handful of studies in humans have investigated the intake of acrylamide, the evidence is mixed.

One review found a modest association between dietary acrylamide in humans and cancers of the kidney, endometrium and ovary (31).

Other studies indicate that acrylamide in the diet in humans is not related to the risk of any common cancer (32, 33).

Summary Animal studies suggest that taking acrylamide in the diet may increase the risk of several types of cancer, but more studies in humans are needed to make sure.

Safer frying oils and alternative cooking methods

If you like the taste of fried foods, consider cooking them at home with healthier oils or alternative "frying" methods.

Healthy oils

The type of oil used for frying greatly influences the health risks associated with fried foods. Some oils can withstand much higher temperatures than others, which makes them safer to use.

In general terms, oils that consist mainly of saturated and monounsaturated fats are the most stable when heated.

Coconut oil, olive oil and avocado oil are among the healthiest.

  • Coconut oil: More than 90% of the fatty acids in coconut oil are saturated, which makes it very resistant to heat. In fact, studies have shown that even after eight hours of continuous deep frying, its quality does not deteriorate (34).
  • Olive oil: Olive oil contains mainly monounsaturated fats, which makes it relatively stable for cooking at high temperatures. One analysis found that olive oil can be used in a fryer up to 24 hours before a significant amount of oxidation begins (35).
  • Avocado oil: The composition of avocado oil is similar to that of olive oil. It also has an extremely high heat tolerance, making it an excellent choice for frying.

The use of these healthier oils can decrease some of the risks associated with the consumption of fried foods.

Unhealthy oils

Cooking oils that contain a high amount of polyunsaturated fats are much less stable and are known to form acrylamide when exposed to high temperatures (36).

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Canola oil
  • Soy oil
  • Cottonseed oil
  • Corn oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Grape seed oil
  • Rice bran oil

These oils are processed, and up to 4% of their fatty acid content is trans fat before frying (37).

Unfortunately, they are commonly used by restaurants, as they tend to be cheaper. Not only should you avoid these oils to fry them, you should also try to avoid them altogether.

Alternatives to traditional frying

You can also consider some alternative cooking methods, which include:

  • Frying in the oven This method involves baking foods at a very high temperature (450 ° F or 232 ° C), which allows the food to become crispy with little or no oil.
  • Frying in the air You can also "fry" foods in a hot air fryer. These machines work by circulating extremely hot air around the food. The food ends crispy on the outside and very moist on the inside, similar to traditionally fried foods, but with 70-80% less oil.

Summary Coconut oil, olive oil and avocado oil are among the healthiest oils for frying foods. You can also try foods for frying in the oven or in the air, which produce similar results with very little oil.

The bottom line

The consumption of fried foods in unstable or unhealthy oils can have several negative effects on health.

In fact, eating them regularly can put you at higher risk of developing diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Therefore, it is probably better to avoid or severely limit your consumption of fried foods commercially.

Fortunately, there are other cooking methods and healthier fats that you can use instead.

Reference: https: //www.healthline.com/nutrition/why-fried-foods-are-bad


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